Similarity and Difference

“In the past, individuals born with bodily differences, such as Siamese twins, dwarfs and midgets, or the human torso, would premise their sideshow exhibits on displays of their normality, which demonstrated their ability to accomplish everyday tasks with ease, to think intelligently, and to engage in respectable relationships with others […]

For example, the human torso Prince Randian was celebrated for his ability to roll a cigarette and light it with his mouth, and the marriage of the Siamese twins Chang and Eng to two normal sisters was widely publicized as proof of their remarkable condition.

In contrast, those performers who were not born true freaks, such as the snake charmer, the savage, the strongman, or the tattooed person, emphasized their difference from the average person. If some biographies embellished the freak’s identity by inventing exotic, faraway origins, others displayed an anxiety about genealogy, insisting on the normality of the freak’s parents and offspring”

(Rachel Adams, in Thomson [1996], pp. 278)